Another early morning in the land with no time. The clock holds no sway in such a place, the day instead has its three proper parts: morning, the afternoon heat, and evening. While the true locals follow the patterns of the seasons, each with its necessary chores and responsibilities, the travelers merely drift about, drawn this way and that by their whims and wants. The language of this place is English spoken with every accent of the world- Thai, French, Pakistani, American, Australian. This country is the melting pot of the adventurous and discontent, all depending on which lens you use to view it.
yesterday was one of those incredible days, the reasons why I travel. I woke up on the farm, PermaPai, where I have been staying for near a week now. Lilly and David were staying in town for David’s birthday and Gop had just awoken to prepare breakfast, his morning task. We were supposed to leave at 9 but Lilly and David were operating on Thai time, so we would be successful if we left by noon. I went into town for coffee and returned to the farm a few hours later, just in time for us to leave. We were off to the Nam Lok caves, an extensive cavern 3 hours away by motorbike on a rough, paved road that twisted up and over the mountatins that form the border with Myanmar. The ride was exhilarating. Most of the traffic was motorbike or large, slow trucks. The views reminded me so much of my home in the mountains of North Carolina- soft, inviting mountains rich with life and diversity.
When we arrived at the village near the cave we went to our guesthouse, Cave Lodge, and had lunch. The place had a special magic to it. A large, open lodge that faced the river, teak floors and a high thatched roof. It was opened by a man who escaped from Australia as a youth in the 80s to seek adventure and new life with the Hill Tribes that live along the border fighting against the Burmese Army in support of their kin in Shan State. Mixed up in all of this is the parallel story of the opium trade and heroin addicts, the stuff that has given the Golden Triangle its reputation around the world. The Thai Army came to this area about a decade ago and burned the fields, arresting people arbitrarily in the process, destroying what sadly had become a way of life throughout at least three generations of Hill Tribe people.
That afternoon we explored the caves before making our way to the mouth where the show would begin at sunsest. Thousands of swifts made their home in the mouth of the cave and every evening they came home to roost in one heavy black cloud that circled out of the sky and streamed into the cave. It lasted for an hour as more and more birds joined the throng. It was an incredible sight. That night I ate a meal of Shan food and listened to music around the fire.